Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weight Loss Weeks 3 & 4 - Show me the fruits!

15 – 28 JAN 2012

It's been a productive two weeks with more weight loss. What's encouraging? My husband's doing the program with me and his energy, along with his enthusiasm is rubbing off on me. Mind you, he's lost 8 pounds to my 3, but I know it's because males and females lose differently.

What am I enjoying?
Eating more fruits. My frig is stocked with blueberries, grapes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. I'm eating more lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers for my salad. Baked potatoes are yummy, but are points so I have to count wisely.

Exercise –
It really helps if I can get moving – with my schedule as demanding as it is, I manage to get a 45 minute walk in approximately 5 days a week. Weight Watchers recommends a minimum of 14 exercise points a week. As soon as I can find some balance, I hope to go back to the gym on a regular basis and incorporate some weight training.

I think the most challenging times have been at work and breakfast. At work, I'm up and alert and sitting at a console. The urge to munch due to boredom is one I struggle with.

For me to get off to a good start, I need to keep my breakfast 5 points or less, but there's so many items to choose from – yogurt, fruit, English muffins, bacon. It's easy to cut deeper into my daily points.

Carbs are my enemy. Well, too many are, at least. And I love a good carb. I've cut down on them, but the urge to eat them is there.

Weight Watcher Meetings
The topics are always interesting. Last week we discovered "power" foods/simply filling foods. These are mostly fruits and vegetables, but include chicken, baked potatoes, and even some grains. You don't necessarily need to "count" them because they're zero points, (most of them) but they should be used according to their portion size. What helps me is looking for the green triangle which is a visual clue the item is a power food. There's always something to learn at the meetings. I'm looking forward to next week's topic.

What works for you? Hate carbs? Any tips?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

California Lighthouse Series - Point Sur, CA

California's Central Coast is one of the longest and remotest areas of the coastline. Let me paint you a picture – we all know where LA is, now go approximately 100 miles north and you find Santa Barbara. Approximately a 2 hour drive north from Santa Barbara is San Luis Obispo and San Simeon, where the Hearst Castle resides. Continue north and the coast turns rugged and remote. The next major city you'll come up to is Carmel and Monterey – an approximate journey of 3 hours. Point Sur is in this rugged patch of land, closer to Carmel and Monterey. While there were lighthouses near San Luis Obispo and Carmel, it was soon determined one was needed at Point Sur.

The big shipwreck that spurred action was the Ventura in 1875. It should be noted that while not having a light on Point Sur contributed to the wreck, it didn't help the Captain was drunker than a skunk.

Congress soon allocated the money for Point Sur to be built. The facility was constructed on a 361 ft. tall rock. Between the rock and mainland is a "tombolo," lowland that is covered with water from time to time cutting off the rock from the coastline.

The light at Point Sur was lit on 1 August 1889. According to my research, it first used an oil wick lamp with whale and lard oil then kerosene used as the fuel. Finally, a 1st order Fresnel lens was brought in. The lens was practically 9 feet tall itself. The visibility of the lens was 23 nautical miles.

To help out during dense fog, a foghorn was installed – run by coal generated steam.

Point Sur is known as a light station – not a lighthouse. Why? Because it was so remote, it basically had to provide for itself since there was no road until 1937.

There was 1 head keeper and 3 assistant keepers. A cistern held the water, a barn held the cattle and horses, and blacksmith shop provided metal supplies. The kids didn't go to school daily. In 1927 a school teacher was assigned. They were usually young women straight out of college. Unfortunately, they didn't last long since the area was so remote and lonely.

How did the station get their supplies? Animal feed, coal, and firewood arrived on long, broad ships known as a "lighthouse tender." It would anchor near the station and the supplies put on skiffs and towed to land. That's a hard life if you ask me.

Finally in 1937, Highway 1 connected Point Sur to the rest of the world. Known in California as the Pacific Coast Highway, it runs as close as it can to the California coast from San Diego to the northernmost border. Once that happened, the US Coast Guard took over the lighthouse station in 1939.

Ships still wrecked though in 1894, 1909, 1915, 1921, 1930, etc. The most notable wreck wasn't a ship, though – it was a dirigible.

On 12 Feb 1935, the USS Macon, a dirigible crashed at Point Sur. The lighthouse keeper related that the fin went to pieces and the nose dived into the water. Out of the 83 crewmembers only 2 survived. The Macon was powered by helium. (much safer than hydrogen and that's not saying a lot) The skin was cotton, the frame, aluminum and the airship was 3 times as long as a Boeing 747. Top Speed? 80 mph. The Macon also carried 4 reconnaissance airplanes.

In 1974 the last Coast Guard keeper left the station. The light is now fully automated with an aero beacon used for light and airhorn instead of a coal-driven steam powered foghorn. The 1st order Frensel lens is on display at the Monterey Maritime museum. You can find a display of the Macon at the Point Sur light station visitor center. The station is one of the complete and preserved in California.





Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Self Editing Tips: Understanding "beats"

It's been said writing for publication can be defined as "10% writing and 90% editing." Writing is easy, but self-editing is a challenge all by itself. Today, I thought I'd talk about "beats," what they are and when to use them effectively as you go back through editing your story.

A beat is that tidbit of action laced through a scene. Beats are usually used with dialogue. Examples of Beats: heads nodding, worrying or nipping at the lower lip, gazing out the window and fisting the hands. Those are examples of external beats. A short interior monologue would be an example of an internal beat. Using a beat allows for a couple of things:

#1 varies the pace of the dialogue
#2 ties the dialogue to the setting and characters
#3 allows for small bits of imagery - keep in mind: Use only small bits. Too much description can be condescending to the reader.
#4 beats anchor your story to reality

How many beats do you need? That depends on the ebb and flow your dialogue. If you're writing a high tension scene it's best to use a minimum amount of beats. If you're in a less tense scene, you might want more beats.
Remember: use "fresh" beats. No two people walk across a room the same way. People watch. You get some good ideas from that. Pay attention to beats that you read. You can learn a lot from reading.

Reference: Self-Editing for Fiction Writer by Renni Brown and Dave King, Harper Resource, 2nd Edition, 2004, 279 pages.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weight Loss Week #2 - 8-14 JAN

I had my weigh-in on Tuesday and the boys were in school. My weight loss was 1.6 pounds so I can't complain. It's a nice start. At the meeting, we talked about planning and how planning can lead to success.

I have to admit, planning can be a challenge for me. I usually go day-by-day, but the group leader wanted us to think a week out. While I think that's ideal, it's not practical with all I have going on.

I do manage a good day-by-day plan. This week I've treated myself to beef fajitas, chicken marsala, and baked ziti with chicken sausage. I've also taken a couple of 45 minutes walks around the neighborhood. My husband, who is counting points with me lost 6 points. I'm proud of him.

Oh, did I tell you I joined the weight loss challenge at work. We "weigh" out 22-24 March. 1st place is $975. 2nd place is $400 something and 3rd place is $275.

Now, if I can through the weekend… I'm doing homemade pizza.
How was your week?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weight Loss Week #1 - 2-7 JAN 2012

Ah, weight loss! I think it's one of the most popular new year's resolutions. It's so popular, it's practically cliché, but this year, I'm dedicating "me" time for weight loss.

To that end, I went back to Weight Watchers on 2 Jan – and I brought my boys, Andrew, 9, and Joe, 5, to the meeting. Yes, I didn't really have a choice. I don't have a dedicated babysitter so they had to go. Besides, I shuffle them to dance class, appointments, etc., it's about time they let me have some "me" time.

Quite honestly, here's why I think my previous attempts at weight loss come up short: I'm always doing for others. (i.e., my boys and various other commitments) and not allowing myself enough time for what I want.

So, this year, to "fix" that, I built in the opportunity for "me" time. Mind you, I didn't ask for a lot – just enough to get about 40 minutes of exercise in and enough time to plan my meals.

My boys did good at the meeting. They sat quietly, but toward the end, Joe wiggled a lot. It was a good refresher. My daily goals: eat fruits and veggies, drink water, eat fiber & protein, take a vitamin, drink some milk and exercise. I'm a big walker so I hope to get a couple of 5K's in this year.

To accomplish my goals I need to pre-plan meals with my points in mind. I get 26 daily points. Do-able. I need to lay off the carbs and carbonation.

Now I know there are multiple ways to lose weight, but I chose to use Weight Watchers. If you've got a tip you'd like to share or you want to offer some encouragement, I'd love to hear it. The weight loss journey isn't easy and will take patience, but friends make it bearable.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just Released - Twilight Over Moldavia, Moldavian Moon Book 2, paranormal/witch romance

4 Stars, Vijaya Schartz, author
In this novel full of danger and intrigue, sexy scenes, and unspeakable secrets, the werewolves are the villains, and oh how dangerous they are, and unwashed, and uncivilized. The kind of villains you love to hate.


Romanian unification is on the horizon. Prince Stefan Sigmaringen travels to Ploiesti, Carpathia. He's to be promised in marriage to the Crown Princes Caroline, a spirited young lady who prefers riding horses and archery to embroidery and dancing.

Despite Stefan's initial apprehension, he discovers that his intended is a pleasant surprise with a caring heart. He also learns a strange man named Timon has an unnatural interest in him.

Two years later, Stefan and Caroline are officially engaged. To Stefan's horror he overhears his mother confessing to a dangerous secret – she cursed him in order to conceive him and Stefan owes his body to Timon. There is a condition to overcome the curse, but Stefan will have to draw on all his courage and inner strength to confront the werewolf who desires to posses his soul. Stefan feels it isn't fair to fall in love with Caroline with a foul enchantment hanging over his head. Dare Caroline break the blood bonds of the curse with her love?


She nipped at her lower lip, and the energy between them surged. He tilted his head and drew her close, their mouths awkwardly skirting each other. Her breath, warm and hinting of apricots from the wine she had sipped earlier, ghosted over his cheek. Their lips brushed, and his pulse spiked. Gently, he continued to kiss her with hesitant exploration. She was the first woman he had ever kissed, and her lips were everything he had expected -- and more.

He placed his hands on her waist and tugged her close, pressing her against the length of his body. She put her hands on his shoulders and trailed her fingers along the nape of his neck.

Stefan groaned and increased the intensity of the kiss. Fueled by their mutual desire, his manhood grew hard. He hadn't known that feeling before. He could lose his head to it.

He broke off the kiss and drew in a breath. Confusion pooled in Caroline's expression.

"No." He paused. "I don't think we should go too fast."

"All right."

"Alina, I don't think it's wise for us to discuss Viktor," Stefan's mother said, her proximity startling him. Nervous energy spiked through him at her tone.

He placed his finger over his lips, and Caroline nodded. He furrowed his brow and gestured for her to hide behind the rose bushes near the bench with him. She did so.

His mother's and Lady Alina's footsteps echoed along the walking path.

"Viktor put all of this in motion," Lady Alina said.

Stefan's mother exhaled. "No, I did," she said, her voice heavy with regret. "I made a poor decision."

"He took advantage of you in a moment of deep pain. You were mourning the death of your son, Hadrian."

"I should have been more guarded."

"Viktor was a cunning wolf. We all thought he could be trusted."

Their footsteps stopped. Stefan prayed they couldn't hear his pounding heartbeat.

"The curse will come to fruition soon," Alina said.





Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! 2012 Resolutions

Well, 2011 has come and gone and its time to start a New Year with a fresh face.

Did you make any resolutions for 2011? You know, I hate to say it, but I don't think I did. I tend to set goals. Goals seem obtainable to me. Resolutions imply a firm commitment to your personal objective and I always feel like a loser when I come up short.

What makes people talk about resolutions at the beginning of the New Year? I think for the most part, people are in a reflective mood when one year ends and another begins. We naturally look to the past, evaluate where we are in life and set new resolutions/commitments/goals for the future.

I can't honestly say how long New Years resolutions have been going on. My Internet research suggests the Romans began the tradition in 153 BC when they established "Janus" the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrance at the start of their calendar. Janus became a symbol of resolutions for the Romans. They looked for forgiveness from their enemies and exchanged gifts. The gifts were simple, branches or coins with Janus' face on them.

Nowadays, for those making resolutions, the motivation behind them is self-improvement. These can include: weight loss, eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, reduce stress, take a trip, volunteer to help others, and there are many more.

This year I intend to commit to weight loss. I don't want to say "I resolve" because I'm afraid I'll fail, but I'll call it a goal. This goal is going to take patience, planning, and time. Losing weight doesn't come easy or quickly. I've also noticed it’s a wee bit harder over 40 as well, but I want to be healthy, especially for the boys so losing about 30-40 pounds is a goal I want to achieve.

I'm kindling the fire of the plan as I write. I'm joining the weight loss challenge at work, heading back to weight watchers, and planning meals as well as exercise time.

Okay, I'm pooped thinking about it. This is going to take a serious commitment on my part. Yikes. Sounds a like resolution to me.

Mind you, I have good intentions. In fact, my husband's along for the ride and I've got the boys to cheer me on, but I know it's not going to be easy.

Do you make resolutions? Why or why not? Share thoughts for success, or if resolutions and goal setting isn't your thing, share your thoughts and reflections for 2012.

Inspiration flows from the exchange of ideas.